Best to you and yours for 2016, and beyond.
We've been in a flurry of activity the past couple of weeks, between family and friends and further friends and other-family.
December 12-13, 2015: We did our third annual trip to Montebello [see last year's trip here] with father-in-law and his wife Teri, and brother-in-law Michael and his (very pregnant) wife Alexis and their toddler Duncan, which Rose enjoyed tremendously.
Now that the cousins are old enough to really interact, there was much running and running and running, with Rose directing Duncan (pulling and pushing) into various directions. Come on, Duncan. Come on! she'd chirp, and begin running.
She opened presents, had big buffet meals and we even explored the hotel a bit (so much running).
Rose was much happier in the pool this year as well (unlike last year). Last year it was a struggle to get her in, and this year, a struggle to get her out.
December 24, 2015: Now that we're alternating (after last year's hosting of my family at Christmas), we headed out to my sister's house by the old homestead for our usual Christmas-y business of presents, food, Christmas, etcetera. Given Kate is working two jobs, she wasn't able to make it out at all (which was disappointing; and felt strange to have a Christmas without her).
It also felt strange to have such high temperatures. I kept wandering outside, jacketless in sock feet, to see the full moon. Christine, nearly six months pregnant, pointed out that her mother was apparently also pregnant (with her) during the previous Christmas Day full moon (1977), a year that ALSO saw a new (the first!) Star Wars film appear. What might it all mean?
Given Rose is only two, she does enjoy opening gifts (not limited to her own), and handing out gifts to folk, she doesn't entirely understand about opening everything before enjoying what she's opened. And there's a part of me that doesn't necessarily want to discourage her simply opening something and playing with that for a while, before having to tear into the next thing. I was tempted to set aside the presents she hadn't opened yet, for the sake of her own attention to what she had already opened, for another week or two. No no, don't enjoy that, you need to open all the rest, etcetera.
Not that she necessarily got a ton of things, but a small mound, as toddlers do.
Of course, Rose loved seeing her cousins and running, running, running. Given our reluctance to wrestle the child into sleep in a strange space, it seemed easier, somehow, to drive the 30-40 minutes home when it was all over, and slip the wee girl into her own bed.
December 25, 2015: We woke in our own space, and Christine roused me for the sake of Rose + stockings + presents (why couldn't we sleep in? I mean, really). Some of her favourite items included her matching rain coat and umbrella (which match, also, her school backback), her new shovel, and a guitar. The guitar was for 3 year olds, but she ended up (through use) destroying her dollar-store guitar (which she played constantly), so wanted to get her something slightly upgraded. She's already been playing and singing with it daily.
And post-presents, we ended up at mother-in-law's house, where we saw Michael, Alexis, Duncan and new baby Adelaide for brunch, presents, nap and a big Christmas dinner.
Rose was so wound up from the day, we extended our fifteen minute drive home to nearly an hour (Dow's Lake, Old Ottawa South, Ottawa South, etcetera) to attempt to get her out in the car, which, of course, didn't work out at all. Fortunately, it was only another twenty minutes at home before we got her out completely, which still allowed us to watch our DVR'd Doctor Who Christmas Special before bed, instead of having to wait another day or two.
December 26, 2015: We headed east into Gloucester to visit Christine's McNair cousins, Carla, Paul and David, who were hosting a gathering of Ottawa-ish McNairs for the holidays. Christine's father is one of six, one of whom has six children, most of whom also have multiple children of their own, meaning there were mounds of children for Rose to run around with, even if most family members weren't able to make it. So many McNairs! I can barely keep track of which kids belong to which of Christine's cousins.
Of course, Rose had an enormous amount of fun running and running and running, and managing to fill herself up with a variety of foods (we attempted to limit her sugar intake, but she is very sneaky). And for some reason, I managed not to take a single photo (despite having camera in pocket the entire time).
December 27, 2015: On Sunday night, I'd decided to host a gathering of extended family: inviting my father, sister etc and daughter Kate, as well as an array of my mother's side of the family, which we really don't see often enough (and again, I didn't manage to take a single photo). I collected Kate a couple of hours early so she could hang out with us quietly, before all the madness began; once home, I rang the doorbell to announce to Rose and Christine we had returned, to which Rose apparently responded with glee, "My Katie! My Katie!" After opening sister-gifts of boots (Kate has quite a gift for picking out presents for her wee sister) and a puppy-puppet, Rose dragged big sister Kate around the house for an hour or so, until I finally checked in, to see if she needed to be saved (she did).
Eventually, my cousins Kim and Patti, along with Patti's husband, Joss, arrived, as did my sister and her brood, and Aunt Bette and cousin Lori-Ann, filling our house with food and drink and conversation. The children ran and ran around (Rose's favourite game with cousins). I like very much that I'm finally in a house where I can host such gatherings of friends and/or family, most of whom really don't gather nearly enough. We spoke of just how many of my mother's family smoked (far more than I knew), and a couple of other stories I hadn't yet heard, as well as the ongoing health issues of our Uncle Don, laid up in hospital since December 21st.
And why, again, and did I not take any photos (especially given that Rose apparently had a new/different dress/outfit for every one of these events)? Apparently Kate managed a selfie or two with her toddler sister (an impressive achievement, I'd think), but I don't (yet) have copies of any of those (and I'm not on instagram). Rose, also, managed to convince her cousin Duncan to pilfer multiple Turtles for her, from one of the higher shelves. Sigh.
December 28, 2015: An enormously busy day that opened with a dentist appointment, before heading over to our pal (and recent John Newlove Poetry Award-winner) Ron Seatter's house for brunch with him and his charming wife Barb. En route there we caught an email from a cousin, informing us that my Uncle Don had died the night prior (my obituary posts tomorrow). We had a lovely visit, and Rose played with their ten year old daughter for an hour or so (until she was starting to wear down from toddler-play), and saw the enormous amount of furniture and other items that Ron has built over the past couple of years (his devices are impressive).
And then, of course, our Peter F. Yacht Club Christmas party/reading/regatta, which I've already posted about, here. I even manged to get a couple of hours of solitary writing in at the tavern (with a couple of items, including a David Foster Wallace collection of essays gifted to me from my dear wife, Christine), before all the nonsense began, attempting (still, again) to complete that manuscript of short fiction I've been trying to complete (slowly) since before Rose was born...
The next afternoon was Star Wars, of course, thanks to childcare (well, once we dug the car out, obviously) from Carla, Paul and David. The film was MAGNIFICENT, and we only got stuck driving out in the Gloucester-wilds a couple of times. Go away, snow, you're drunk!
Can I go back to work again, now?